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Nintendo Wii may lessen aggressive behaviour

The results of a new study from Pennsylvania State University in Altoona, United States of America has shown that games using motion sensing technology have no effect on the levels of aggression felt by players; whereas gamers playing with traditional console controllers get just plain mad.


Researcher Eric P. Charles along with his team of Christopher Baker, Kelly Hartman, Bryan Easton and Christian Kreuzberger reached this conclusion after watching a group of 87 students play a selection of violent and non-violent games on the PlayStation 3 using standard controllers and on the Nintendo Wii using the motion-capturing Wiimote.

The first section of the study used the games Soul Caliber (violent) and Lego Indiana Jones (non-violent), both of which were played using analog and motion-capture controls. The researchers found that

“Violent video game play led to less aggression when participants used motion-capture controls.

In order to further test this theory, the team then used the game Punch Out!! which is the only game on the Wii console that can be played identically with or without the motion-capture tech. Once again it was discovered that the participants who played using motion-capture were less aggressive than those who played without.


Finally, because clearly these researchers are very thorough, a third test was conducted. This test was designed to measure the effect of co-operative and competitive gameplay during 2-player games using motion-capture technology. This test used the “violent” game selected for the study, Soul Caliber, and the results showed that regardless of scenario (i.e. competitive or co-operative), once again, there were no changes in the levels of aggression exhibited by participants.

Thus it was concluded that

“These results run counter to standard models relating violent video game play to aggressive behavior, highlighting the difficulty in anticipating the effects of newer, more immersive technology.

The report stated

"One potential explanation is that motion-capture technology is more cathartic than analog video-game play…A related explanation is that motion-capture technology requires greater physical expenditure. There is evidence that people are less violent after short periods of exercise or exertion."

At present many of those in the research world are starting to acknowledge that studies showing a causal link between violent videogames and violent behaviour are somewhat flawed. It’s interesting to note that this study functions as reinforcement for this hypothesis:

"Contrary to the fears of industry critics, this research suggests that newer technologies, which create a more realistic experience, will not necessarily increase aggression in video game players…The majority of published studies show small effects of violent video game play on violent behaviour, but this study adds to those showing that such effects may be quite fleeting."

I think we’re all rather surprised to find out that the Nintendo Wii is actually useful for something.

You can read the full study here.


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